Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Batman and Robin #1 Review


Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely and Alex Sinclair
Letters by Pat Brosseau
Cover by Frank Quitely

preRanking: 06
  • To put my review of this issue into context, I would like to offer up some information to those who are new to the Rankings: I HATED Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, especially the RIP storyline. It was self-indulgent drivel that was a far cry from the masterful storytelling that Morrison used to be known for. I’m also not a fan of Frank Quitely’s work. That being said, I picked up this issue out of sheer curiosity and did my best to approach it objectively.
  • With this in mind, it is worth noting that, much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed this issue.
  • Morrison starts things off in a rush by showcasing the new dynamic duo (Dick “Nightwing” Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin) in action before introducing a disturbing new set villains, all the while setting up the status quo for the series.
  • As far as introductory issues go, this works extremely well. The dynamic between the leads is established right away, as is a strong tie-in to the events past, and a few hanging threads for the future (including a very Geoff Johns-ian set of “trailers”). By the end of this issue the tone is set and readers know what to expect.
  • The main problem is the details that Morrison tends to gloss over or simply ignore—take your pick. For example, early on Damian establishes that Dick has made it a big deal that they never refer to one another by first names and yet, Dick is name dropping secret identities all over the place. If this is a conscious decision, it doesn’t make sense, so my suspicion is that Morrison was simply too wrapped up in the bigger picture. There are a number of minor issues like this throughout.
  • I am glad, however, that Morrison, for the most part, seems to be eschewing the “weird for the sake of weird” approach he has been using lately. Instead of throwing out pointless oddities that never connect with anything else, he seems to be much more controlled here. That makes me feel much better about the future of this title.
  • If you are a fan of Frank Quitely’s art then you are probably going to love this issue. It looks a lot like what his art normally looks like, so if you already have a set opinion on him, it isn’t going to sway. From my perspective, this is a bad thing.
  • The art lacks depth, is never consistent with the amount of cross-hatching used throughout the issue, features tremendously horrid and bulgy anatomy, and, perhaps most notably, features a child being drawn in a manner that suggests that Quitely has never seen a child and is drawing merely from description of children alone (I am, of course, talking about Damian). Plus his Batmobile design doesn’t really look like anything—it is more amorphous blob than transportation device.
  • Fans of Morrison and Quitely are going to eat this up (though I came to the conclusion after Final Crisis that if fans of Morrison will accept nearly anything, no matter how mindless), but even skeptics like me will find something to enjoy. The new villain is creepily interesting and the interplay between Damian and Dick worked just well enough to have me interested in at least the next few issues. I give this one a solid recommendation.

SCORE: 7.5/10

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